10 Ways to Spot an A-Player During the Hiring Process

spot an A-Player during the hiring process

When it comes to hiring, you want to make sure that you’re getting the top candidates and the best people for the role – you want to hire A-Players. But during the interview stage it can be hard to set the best workers who will genuinely contribute to your business apart from the blaggers who are full of hot air. So we’ve rounded up 10 ways to spot an A-Player during the hiring process so that you can pick out those who could one day become a real asset to your company.

For those who haven’t heard the term, here’s a quick rundown of the three categories you can generally group people into:

A-Players – the top 10% of people; those who go above and beyond in their work and are usually well-liked and valuable to the business.

B-Players – most people; they do their job well and fulfil what’s expected of them but little more.

C-Players – the bottom 10% of people; they do just enough to keep coasting through their job, often cause conflict and lack responsibility.

Of course, this is a broad spectrum and an employer shouldn’t judge all of an employee’s ability based on their suspicions about which category they fall into. However, a scale such as this one is a good way to think when you’re looking to hire because you can deliberately seek out those A-Players.

So what should you look for during the hiring process to find an A-Player?

#1 – Promotions

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
Rising up the ranks: have they been promoted?

Look at their career history on their CV – have they ever been promoted? Promotions say a lot about a person because it shows that they have impressed enough to have their efforts officially recognised. One previous promotion is a great sign, two is amazing and three or more previous promotions is seriously impressive.

#2 – Project Leadership

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
A-Players may have taken the lead in organising large events

A-Players seek out more responsibility as they come more adept at their existing tasks, not less. Have they ever been given an important project to run or had any experience managing accounts and vital tasks? This may not even have to be in the workplace – if they’ve taken responsibility for arranging a charity event or even a large party, this shows a keenness to lead and a confidence in their own abilities.

#3 –Love of Learning

A-Players love learning new skills. They are often not content with becoming stagnant and so they will constantly seek to better themselves within a role – and in their personal lives. So ask them to tell you something they learnt in their last role. Ask them what book they’re reading and what new things they want to learn, personally or professionally. If they can answer without hesitation, it’s a good sign.

#4 – Varied Roles

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
A-Players like to wear many hats

Possibly because of this love of learning, A-Players will often find themselves changing roles more often than they change jobs or companies. A new role gives them the opportunity to learn more and experience new situations, an exciting prospect for an A-Player.

#5 – Thoughtful Feedback

Have they researched your company prior to coming to interview? The best candidates will have done their homework and will be able to discuss your company openly and knowledgable in interview. They should be able to tell you what they like about your business and your strategies – and they may even have constructive criticism or an idea of where the business could improve.

#6 – Confidence (but not arrogance!)

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
Confidence is key

There is a fine line between these two but A-Players tend to have some humility. They enjoy working in teams and will use the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ just as much as ‘me’ and ‘I’. The ideal candidate would be confident in their own abilities and feel comfortable with taking on responsibilities – but they would also need to know when to ask for help and work together.

#7 – Probing Questions

A job interview is too-often seen as a one-sided exchange. Essentially, a job interview is a conversation in which the two participants are getting to know one another, albeit a rather formal conversation. So you want to look out for the interviewee giving as good as they get. A-Players will care about the team they will be working with and what the future of the company looks like so any questions they ask you along these lines are a good sign.

#8 – Self-Discipline

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
Have they got any hobbies that require self-discipline like playing instruments?

A-Players tend to be able to motivate themselves and know how to focus their attention and prioritise their tasks. Look out for evidence of this in both their professional and personal backgrounds – have they done any freelance work or had to work independently? Do their hobbies and personal interests require self-motivation, for instance: learning how to play a musical instrument or how to speak a foreign language? If they can prove that they can be dedicated, motivated and disciplined, then they are likely to bring the same qualities to the workplace.

#9 – Competitiveness

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
A-Players tend to be competitive

Competitiveness goes hand-in-hand with accountability. A-Players love to put themselves forward and take responsibility for their performance – win or lose. Top performers may even have unwavering faith in their ability to succeed and so will be willing to take on a challenge for the chance to impress. However, you may like to make sure that their competitiveness doe

#10 – Well-Liked

spot an A-Player during the hiring process
The ideal candidate would get on well with their colleagues

Contact their references and ask this crucial question – if the appropriate position arose, would you re-hire this individual? If the answer is a resounding yes then the person is almost definitely an A-Player. The best employees to have are those who continue to be good employees even after they have handed in their notice. If an ex-employer would still value their skills and talents and would reinvest in this person without a second thought then clearly they are a good person to have on board any team.